By BRANDON SHRIDER
Findlay High School’s hockey team had mounted a 4-1 lead with 20 minutes to play Friday night.
Nineteen minutes later the Trojans were tied with Walsh Jesuit and Trojans coach Craig Perry motioned for a timeout.
Findlay ran a failed offensive-zone faceoff play, but the Trojans did what they had done all night. Instincts took over, the puck swung behind the frame up to Jackson Schmits and he rifled a shot from the right half of the ice into the left corner of the net with 18.9 seconds left, lifting Findlay to a 5-4 nonleague win at The Cube.
“We’ve been working on a play for a faceoff, so we really just ran it,” Perry said. “It didn’t actually work, then just normal hockey. Got it to the right guy in the right spot.”
Findlay improved to 9-9-2 with the win. Walsh Jesuit dropped to 9-9-2.
Prior to Schmits’ game-winner, the Trojans’ scoring had been dry for nearly 20 minutes with their last goal coming with 5:13 to play in the second period.
But Findlay routinely had the puck in its offensive zone across the first two periods, establishing control.
That was a pleasant surprise for Perry.
“The name of our game is urgent right now,” he said. “That’s kind of the theme I’ve had all week, we need to get more shots. Let’s be more urgent, let’s get the puck to the net sooner.
“We were playing that way. We actually kind of did what I said,” he joked.
Senior Kevin Kuhn jumpstarted the Trojans.
After controlling the puck on its end, Findlay worked the puck to the top right of the formation and Kuhn pushed Blake Gray’s pass past Walsh’s freshman keeper Zach Firment for a 1-0 lead 8:12 into the game.
Geremy Davison answered four minutes later on a breakaway for the Warriors.
Findlay put its stamp on the game in the second period, though, striking in the first minute and twice more across the next nine minutes.
Moments after a faceoff, Harry Hall and Nick Iler combined to set up Michael Armstrong’s goal for a 2-1 lead. Gray scored one of his own on a Matt Felch pass then Iler and Hall combined again, this time Iler pairing with Reid Perry to set up Hall’s score.
“We try to dictate the game. We found out pretty quick that our top two lines could play with their top line. In that first and second period we just ground them into the ground. They were tired,” Perry said.
“The way we’re set up right now, I think we have three dangerous lines and they all have speed. Nobody can really match up to what we have.”
Walsh Jesuit coach Pat McKendry credited his team’s effort in the final period as the only change that sparked a comeback. But handing goals to the Trojans and digging itself a three-goal crater was not part of the plan.
“We spoonfed a couple goals to them, we did. And a team that’s that good, if you give them goals, it’s gonna be tough to win,” McKendry said.
“Spoonfeeding twelve (Harry Hall) isn’t the right thing to do and we did it twice. Giving the puck to the most dangerous player on the ice isn’t gonna be a good recipe for winning.”
The Warriors rattled off three consecutive scores after Hall’s goal to tie the game for the first time since being deadlocked at 1-1 after the opening period.
Seniors Matt Lasker and Peter Calleri sandwiched goals around sophomore David Wohlabaugh’s score. Lasker’s goal to cut the deficit to 4-2 was the lone powerplay score of the game.
“When we were at 4-1, I was gonna try to play a little more conservative,” Perry said. “And then they get a powerplay goal, and then I’m sitting there thinking we need to get the next goal, and they get the next goal.
“We didn’t make it easy.